Pea-size by 4th of July
As far as agricultural adages go the expression “knee-high by the 4th of July” in reference to corn is perhaps a little more well-known than the “pea-size by the 4th of July” in reference to grapes, that I just came up with two minutes ago. However, it is totally appropriate (for this year at least) so I’m running with it. Right now the berries, for the most part, are what we call “pea-sized” (well, more peppercorn size in Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’re generalizing). They are rock-hard and unpalatable at this point. Within the next couple of weeks, the clusters will start to close up, the berries will begin to soften, and before we know it, it’s veraison time! Vertical growth (which is way higher than knee-high by now) will start to slow down and cease altogether once veraison starts. At that point, we start talking countdown to harvest.
I’d say they look pretty much pea-size
For those living in California, you may have noticed the small heat wave we had a couple of weeks ago. Oh heck- it was CRAZY HOT (not that I would know as we were in the throes of winter in New Zealand.) The extreme heat did stress a few vines here and there, resulting in some basal leaf yellowing, but for the most part, the vineyard came through with flying colors. Helping out was the humidity that stayed north of 28% and the good amount of moisture left in the soil from all of our winter rain. We don’t till the soil at Naggiar so even the rocky soil here retains moisture…all of the decades of mowed material works its way into the soil profile to help retain moisture as well as helps keep the good bugs in the rhizosphere, happy. Happy bugs, happy vines.
As far as what we humans are doing, we are finishing up the laterals and leaf removals so we can properly mature the resulting fruit and minimize mildew growth. Mildew does not like sunlight or fresh air. Hmm- an organism that lives off of another organism, destroying its vitality, that doesn’t like sunlight or fresh air…I think I have a few of those living in my house…
Thankfully, we missed the heatwave and returned from our trip to gorgeous weather! It’s a good thing because it’s winter Down Under and the wine regions of New Zealand are about the same corresponding latitude as the wine regions of Oregon and Washington. It was kind of a kick to leave here seeing the vines really coming to life and drive through there and see workers out there doing the first pruning.
The Marlborough Wine Region
Some “Wooly Weeders” helping out in the vineyards